4th Line Theatre

Four of us enjoyed a pleasant summer evening at the 4th Line Theatre early in July. It was their first dress rehearsal of The Great Shadow.

We have attended 4th Line Theatre for many years. Their mandate is what attracted us to their productions 30 years ago.

Mandate: To preserve and promote our Canadian cultural heritage through the development and presentation of regionally-based, environmentally-staged, historical dramas.

This is the 30th season for 4th Line Theatre. The evening began with an introduction in which a change of focus was shared.

That evening was also special because it was the first production following a two year hihatus. The evening started with some polite acknowledgments. Recognition was given to the Indigenous people, the Chippewa of the Williams tract, on whose traditional lands the production was being staged.

What made the acknowledgment more meaningful was that the announcements did not stop there. The director read the second of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. They committed to reading one before every performance.

The announcements did not end there. The director explained that 4th Line Theatre is expanding their mission of bringing local history to the stage. The topics presented in their first 30 years focused exclusively on local history during the colonial period.

Starting next year the topics will go much further back in history. They plan to present topics on local Indigenous history. At this time two historical dramas are being written.

It is exciting to see this theatre company broadening their scope and decide to start filling an important gap in our collective understanding of the lands we live on.

More recently we attended Wishful Seeing, a second summer historical drama at 4th Line Theatre.

Once again the land acknowledgment was made. This was followed by reading one of the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

A family member who joined us for the production of Wishful Seeing wondered how the reading of one of the Call to Action fit into the performance. The reading had no connection to the historical drama being presented.

What was missing from the most recent introduction was the reason for the reading was not mentioned. Second, there was no mention made of the two Indigenous historic dramas currently being written. 

By abbreviating the introductions, the message and the expanded focus of 4th Line Theatre was muddled.

Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing what promises to be an exciting lineup for the 2023 season.

Attending 4th Line Theatre has become a summer tradition we hope to continue for many more years..

Jasper Hoogendam (c) 2022

Draw

Open the curtain to a new day

Life is a stage

Impromptu

Partially unpredictable

An improv performance

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At times a comedy

Bringing laughter and joy

At times perplexing

with discomfort and pain.

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With each scene unfolding

A message being shared

Know when to edit

When to draw the curtain

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Draw the curtain

Change your focus

Block out distractions

Don’t perseverate

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Reaching the vulnerability limit

Needing protection

End the scene

Draw the curtain

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Don’t push to the limit

Avoid the reflex

To lift the draw bridge

Seeking the safety of the moat

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Drawing the bridge

Creating a break

Bringing isolation

Socially cut off

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Change the scene

Social filters in place

Drawing on inner resilience

Move the story along

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Open the curtain

No change of character

Welcome a new scene

Living your story.

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Welcome each new scene

Experiencing the unfolding

As your story progresses

Giving new insight

Bringing new understanding

Increasing one’s empathy

Compassion

Wonder

Appreciation

Humility

Curiosity

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Venture forth

Each new day

Another chapter being told

As life unfolds

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We’re the actor

In our own scenes

Not a patron supporting the theatre

Where each scene is staged

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Every morning

Open the curtain

Be the author

Be the editor

Know when to draw the curtain

In the improv of your life

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Jasper Hoogendam (c) August 2022

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An open invitation to embrace Disability Pride (whether you’re disabled or not)

Having lived over 7 years with an acquired disability I am still learning how to view disabilities in other people.

The term Disability Pride focuses on the ability of each person. The focus is on each person being proud of their ability and how they are able to contribute.

It is easier to notice a person’s disability than to make note of their strengths and skills.

In order to be better informed I share a blog posting from down under.

Jasper Hoogendam… I share…

On Saturday April 9th, I attended my first ever Disability Pride Fest, in Newtown NSW.

Wow! It was huge.  It’s taken me a while to process my thoughts about it.  As  Disability Pride month closes, it seems like a good time to pull some thoughts together from the Pride Fest and from Disability Pride Month, celebrated throughout July.

The value and achievements of disabled people were front and centre at the Disability Pride Festival. Non-disabled people were present, but on this day, they were the ones on the sidelines.

This was a day about people with… disability /disabled people. A huge

https://wp.me/p5z8q2-a3

Waking Up

The time I wake up

Late morning, mid morning

Early morning, unearthly morning

Is a measure of my day

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I measure the previous day

By the level of restfulness

By the level of restlessness

With which I emerge the next day

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Sleeping late I’ve been taught

The sign of a sluggard

An unmotivated ne’er do well

Oh to unlearn that

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Sleeping late

When I’ve pushed too hard

When I’ve pushed my limit

Taking time for recovery

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When I rise at five am

Welcoming the morning sun

Climbing to the horizon

I’m energized, refreshed

My reward for listening

Being in tune with my body

Being in the moment

Pacing my previous day

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When I rise at five am

Assaulted by the rays of the sun

Rising early from restlessness

I falter by mid morning

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At times I  succumb

Abandoning my vague plans

My unformed goals

Not able to keep pushing

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Giving way to what wasn’t meant to be

Having failed to listen the day before

Having blindly pushing forward

Deaf to my needs

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Other times I foolishly dig in

Resolved to not succumb

Tenacity or plain stubbornness

Continuing the cycle of restlessness

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The next day

An early morning rising

Restless

Another day of struggle.

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Take time to pause

Push aside the restlessness

Break the cycle

Regain the inner calm

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How can I be a support for others

Unless I properly equip myself

Let my whole being recover

Able to share a renewed self

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Jasper Hoogendam   (c) July 2022

Liturgy

the rhythm

the familiar

annoying repetition

some days a drudgery

at times craving change

getting up at 6:30

walking to the bathroom taking care of necessities

sauntering to the kitchen to put on the kettle

tea would be a wonderful start

add to that some maple syrup for a balanced sweetness

breakfast in the dining room

this morning its steel cut oats

topped with red currants from last summer’s picking

watching for the male cardinal a dash of red

maybe his mate will appear today

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Isolation Liturgy

Awake at 7:30

Might as well get out of bed

But yesterday I slept till almost 8:00

And then two days ago I was wide awake at 5:13

Keep a regular schedule they say

Be intentional about you meal time

Make it an event,

Another beat in the rhythm of the day

Like a clock, tick tock

For what purpose?

No appointment

No place to meet at said time

The familiar rhythm of pre- isolation

Gone.

The liturgy of the familiar

Gone.

The purpose of the clock

Gone.

The clock

tick tock

tock tick

tic toc

tick tic

toc tick

toc tock

the rhythm

unpredictable

the tyranny of schedules

schedules a shadow

of another world

fading

out of reach

life

bump bump bump bump

the fading of social life

the social support

gradual decline so quick

the clock aggravates the waiting

nine minutes,

seventeen minutes

or was that twenty seven

it’s all the same

time measured by things done

time capturing the satisfaction

the abyss of waiting

how long

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Renewed Liturgy

a new beat

gradually growing

faint and unfamiliar

welling from within

fed from without

moving with it

feel it grow

increasing over time

becoming familiar

welcoming

a rhythm of our own making

in time

not the rhythm of tyranny

choosing

the rhythm for life

welcoming change

evolving as needs change

the ebb and flow

each day a little different

the rhythm of tides

the movement of the moon

day follows night

summer heat follows spring renewal

in step with the rhythm

in sync with one’s heart beat

constant yet changing

freed from the tyranny

finding one’s rhythm

supporting life

room for others

sharing the beat

in step

free yet in step

lead by the heart

feeding the heart

a heart for living

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Jasper Hoogendam. (c) July 2022

Living With Dad

Toronto skyline from where I grew up

I have been living with Dad for almost two weeks. This is the longest time since I was a teen, about 50 years ago.

It’s commonly accepted that at some point in life the parent/child relationship changes. The parent is no longer the caregiver and becomes the carereceiver. This sometimes changes overnight

I stepped in because my dad had a setback and needed some help to get through the day. I don’t help him unless he asks for help. It’s important to not slip into an ableist mindset.

Just because a person suddenly needs a little help doesn’t mean they are suddenly incapable. There are specific areas where help is needed. The type of help needed is not obvious.

Dad is proudly independent and will push back if I offer to help. I don’t want him using precious energy to push back. I want him to know I respect his choices. His mantra is, “If you don’t use, you lose it.”

When something in his daily routine needs to be improved I wait with the discussion for a time when we’re sitting down and simply chatting. Not when he’s in the middle of doing a task.

If there needs to be a change in diet or he should consider using a better assistive device it is my job to give him the relevant information. That’s all.

If my father is not convinced after I’ve laid it out I will honour his choice. If at a later time he has a complaint related to what we’ve discussed I will review the information with him. In the end it still remains his choice.

The best diet or the best assistive device is one that he is comfortable with.

Transition

At this point the role of caregiver has not totally flipped. At this point he is mostly independent. It is his apartment. It is his car. He makes the grocery list and prepares his food to his liking. He tracks his own medication and appointments. He’s worked out shortcuts and developed his own efficiencies.

I am his assistant rather than his caregiver. I am pleased to be in that role and honour his choices and respect him for his resilience.

I can gauge how well he’s doing by the number of requests for help I get from him.

Ableism

It’s important to avoid ableist behavior. Don’t assume help is needed. Don’t insist on helping just because the person looks like they are having a hard time. They might well be having a hard time and using an inordinate amount of effort.

That’s why one needs to remember: If you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Through thoughtful observation and non judgemental questions it is not hard to recognize when help is needed.

Jasper Hoogendam. (c) July 2022

Extended Visit

Twelve days since I arrived

Observing Dad’s daily rhythm

As I merge into his world

Fitting into his time and space

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As I move in sync with each day

Brief conversations popping up

Like a mid day shower

On a hot mid summer day

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An observation shared

Insects flitting past his window

One flying close to the wood siding

Searching for holes in the wood

Instinct to avoid becoming prey

A visual worship experience

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A thought shared

Raised under a parenting mantra

Children should be seen and not heard

Contrast to observing kid’s entitlement

Pondering a better middle ground

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An instruction given

Dictating a weekly grocery list

Over a three day period

Several nutrition discussions ensue

Balancing preferences, needs and frivolity .

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Directions given

Offered to pick up critical supplies

Take highway 8 then 4th Avenue

Turn at the tower on the left

Dad, name the store – app to the rescue

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A memory recounted

Employed as general maintenance

Many a task without textbook solutions

Combining creativity with skill

Personal satisfaction and joy

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A memory revived

Forgot his choice of four day work week

At age 50 one day a week for repairs

Voluneering fixing things for seniors

Helping those living on fixed income

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Each conversation a light sprinkling

Revealing a few droplets of his character

The motivation welling from within

A desire to see others thrive

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Not one to brag or boast

Thankful and feeling cared for

His lifetime employments a chance to serve

Moderate means willingly shared

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Jasper Hoogendam  (c) July 2022

Oh Dear

Recalling a story shared by a friend

It was an early summer evening when my dog dragged in a bedraggled rabbit. This was just a day after a rainy spell..

On seeing the white fur with a few black spots it was unmistakably my neighbour’s pet rabbit.

When I looked over the fence into my neighbour’s yard my suspicion was  confirmed. The door of the rabbit hutch was ajar and the hutch was empty.

I just didn’t know how to tell my neighbour what my dog dragged home. I decided that my best option was to clean up the dead rabbit. I washed the fur till all traces of mud were gone. Then I brushed the fur till it almost looked its usual self.

I walked over to the rabbit hutch when I thought no one was around. I gently placed the rabbit in the hutch, carefully latched the door and got home without anyone seeing me.

Two days later as I was sitting in my backyard my neighbour walked up to the fence and started to talk to me. I felt a bit uneasy.

After sharing a few comments about the weather he commented about his rabbit. He said I wouldn’t believe what happened. Two days after I buried the rabbit in the ravine it mysteriously ended up back in the rabbit hutch. I am baffled.

Thanks A. L. for the story.

Fantasy is Real

A Crab in Pursuit

Sitting alone with Dad

A lazy summer mid day

Low humidity a day after the rain

A gentle south west breeze

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Watching clouds floating by

Random shapes and forms

A cat morphing into a dog

A man reclining but briefly

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What the mind sees

The eye confirms

We name different forms

Yet we both share the moment

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Shaped by one’s imagination

Though elusive and fleeting

Yet sealing a memory

Both lasting and real

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Jasper Hoogendam. (c) July 2022

The Future is in the Past

I’ve spent over a week in the area in which I was born and raised. I’ve been exploring a nearby hamlet and areas further afield.

The plaque pictured above tells an interesting story. It’s the story of the Hamilton, Grimsby & Beamsville Railroad Company, known as the HGB for obvious reasons.

Then

In October of 1887, some twenty years after Confederation, this railway line was opened. I presume it followed the historic Highway 8, built along the shoreline of prehistoric Lake Iroquios. (I lived along this ancient shoreline during my elementary school days.)

The railway line ran 37 km (58 miles in the then imperial measurement) taking one hour to get from Beamsville to the downtown of the nearest major city, Hamilton. Almost break neck speed in those days.

The railway line was powered by electricity.  It’s early days was before the first electric power development at Niagara Falls. (That didn’t happen till 1922.)

This line was not only used for passengers wanting to go shopping in the big city. It was also a great means for farmer to get their milk and produce to the markets in the thriving big city of Hamilton.

The train would make frequent stops along the 37 km line. At its peak the HGB rail served over one million passengers a year.

This clean and convenient means of moving goods and people came to an end in June 1931.

The HGB could not compete with the cars being produced by General Motors. General Motors is responsible for de-electrifying transportation in many North American cities.

Now

Now we are in a period where electricity of the past is seen as the future. Other electric technological initiatives from a century ago are now being resurrected and developed

What goes around comes around. I am hopeful as new initiatives are being implemented.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Personal

The initiatives from a century ago has put me in an interesting position.

– I drive a car that’s powered by electricity

– I am able to produce my own electricity

– I am able to sell surplus electricity into the grid

For me that’s just a start.

How many of our present challenges can be solved by looking to the past? Then build on it.

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Jasper Hoogendam. (c)